by Adriana Pinegar
Certainly by now, everyone knows two things about Mitt Romney: He’s a Latter-day Saint, and he wants to be president.
During his political career, Romney has made it clear he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a graduate of BYU, the topic was quickly brought up. Openly admitting his faith has not stopped Romney from succeeding in the business world or the political arena.
However, as a candidate in the 2012 presidential race, the topic of religion is still being talked about. With Romney in the race and former Utah governor and fellow Latter-day Saint Jon Huntsman expected to announce his candidacy soon, religion has again been thrown into the mix of issues up for debate. The two men have responded differently to questions about their membership in the Church, but neither candidate is elaborating much on the subject.
Huntsman has even been accused of distancing himself from the Latter-day Saint faith. While he did profess to be a Mormon on “Good Morning America” in May, he has been vague about his membership in the past.
“I can’t say I am overly religious,” Huntsman said in an interview with Fortune magazine. “I get satisfaction from many different types of religions and philosophies.”
Romney was more outspoken about his faith during his first presidential campaign. In December 2007, he gave a speech about religion. In that speech he addressed how his religion would factor into his presidency.
“[Some] would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do,” Romney said. “I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith, nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”
During the current race, Romney has been less vocal about his religion and focused instead on outlining his politics. Romney learned from the 2008 election that critics of his religion may not be interested in hearing an explanation.
“There are just some people for whom it will not be settled,” Romney told the Boston Globe. “That’s just the nature of who we are as a people. A lot of people have differing views.”
For many Latter-day Saints, religion has played a part in their opinion of Romney, but it is not the reason they support him.
“I suppose his religion made me more aware of him,” said Patrick White, a graduate of the University of Utah. “But his policies are why I’ll vote for him, not his religion.”
Lisa Nelson, a resident of Las Vegas, also considers religion before casting her vote. However, she said she measures each candidate with the same criteria.
“If I vote for Mitt, it will be because I think he is the best person in the field of candidates for the job based on experience, policies, abilities, devotion to the Constitution and moral character,” she said, “which is how I evaluate all candidates.”